EHRC to report early 2020

Submitted by AWL on 18 December, 2019 - 12:27 Author: Ann Field
labour

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party is expected to publish its report early in 2020.

The remit of the EHRC investigation covers: whether unlawful acts have been committed by the Labour Party; whether it has implemented recommendations about tackling antisemitism and taken overall effective action; and whether its processes are fit-for-purpose.

Organisations which have submitted statements to the investigation include the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL). Both statements are available on-line, in redacted form.

The JLM argues that antisemitism is a major problem in the Labour Party. The JVL argues that the Party provides a welcome home for Jews.

The JLM submission opens with the claim:

“The Labour Party is no longer a safe space for Jewish people. … Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, he has made the Party a welcoming refuge for antisemites. … The Party has made the political calculation that antisemitism is a price worth paying to maintain its internal unity.”

It invites the EHRC to find that “the Party now suffers from – and is legally responsible for – endemic, institutional antisemitism, to make findings to this effect, and to issue an unlawful act notice.”

By contrast, the JVL submission begins with the claim:

“This controversy has been fuelled by partisan and politically motivated interventions. … Far from there being discrimination against Jews in the Party, there has been a determined attempt by the Party to deal with incidents of antisemitism.”
“Our submission outlines the political context, which cannot be ignored. … We do not believe that the controversy can be properly analysed without taking into account the appropriate political context.”

The JVL submission “welcomes an investigation” but then proceeds to immediately criticise the actual EHRC investigation by questioning the validity of its Terms of Reference:

“The EHRC must take care to limit its investigation to acts which are not only antisemitic but are acts in breach of the Equality Act. … Many comments on social media may be abusive and insulting to Jews or some Jews but are not unlawful…”

“The EHRC must consider carefully whether the complaints of unlawful discrimination by the Party, against its members, fall within the scope of the Equality Act at all.”

The JVL does not expand on the implied concept of “lawful antisemitism”.

According to the JLM:

“These submissions do not focus on the troubling pattern of debates concerning Israel straying into antisemitism. The Commission is encouraged to focus on the now acute problem of abuse directed at Jewish members simply because they are Jewish.”

“It is clear from the evidence that these words (‘Dirty Zionist’, ‘Zio’) are now within the Party lexicon of insults for a Jewish person, regardless of that person’s views on Israel.”

In fact a lot of the specific evidence in the JLM submission arguably does highlight how talk about Israel being an uniquely evil and powerful state (and Zionism being an uniquely malevolent and potent ideology) serves as a vector for the expression of antisemitic tropes (something more than “straying into antisemitism”).

• JLM submission: bit.ly/jlm-ehrc
• JVL submission: bit.ly/jvl-ehrc

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